Big budget blockbusters released within the same weekend often push out unique indie films, and Fast Color, directed by Julia Hart, is no exception. With its premiere at SXSW in 2018 and then later its limited April theatrical release a week before Avengers: Endgame, Fast Color went under the radar this year. By the time word of mouth and raving reviews reached the masses the film was quietly exiting theaters, which is unfortunate because Fast Color is a superhero film unlike any other.
The film centers on Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), an uneasy wanderer who is always looking over her shoulder, and within the first 10 minutes we learn why: Ruth has constant seizures that cause supernatural earthquakes. More shockingly, for countless years, it has not rained in the dystopian world of Fast Color. Now with her powers becoming increasingly uncontrollable and with government agents tracking her whereabouts, Ruth travels to the only place she knows is safe: Home.
Once home, we are introduced to Bo (Lorraine Toussaint), Ruth’s mother who has the power to break down objects to a basic level, reassemble them, and see “colors”, bright flashes of light that are said to be all around us and help predict the state of the Earth. Matters are further complicated when we are introduced to Lila, Ruth’s young daughter, who believes her mother to be Bo. Lila (Saniyya Sidney) has the same powers as Bo, and we soon learn that Ruth too once had these powers until she lost her ability to see the Colors.
Hart’s Fast Color is a world enwrapped in mystery as the audience is left to speculate about what caused the world to become the way it is, the workings of the powers we are introduced to, and why Ruth is so estranged from her family. Instead of action set pieces, big villains, and otherworldly events, Fast Color relies on the character development and performances of a family that must learn to work together.
The cinematography of Fast Color is well done as the bleak landscape of Midwestern America is the perfect backdrop to demonstrate a world scarce of water. More specifically, whenever the powers and “colors” are used they breathe life into the world of Fast Color. Breathtaking visuals immerse the screen as they represent the empowerment and freedom the women of Fast Color have grown so hesitant to embrace.
Fast Color’s creative use of powers serves as empowerment and freedom from a harsh reality. It is rare to see a sci-fi film with a black lead, let alone three be handled with as much care like the ones in Fast Color. Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a powerhouse performance that feels real and unscripted. With Toussaint by her side, they propel Fast Color into a heartfelt story of forgiveness and reawakenings. Fast Color is a bonafide indie film, as the powerful performances and jaw-dropping visuals are well welcomed in a world where films about Marvel and DC films characters dominate the genre (sounds weird. Typo maybe?). Fast Color proves that there will always be great stories to tell as long as filmmakers are brave enough to tell them.
Fast Color is now available on Blu-ray and VOD.